Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Love: The neglected worship|
|09/08/01 at 04:39:08|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Love: The neglected worship
Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
In the religion He has revealed for mankind, God included everything needed to make a society based on faith a closely-knit one. The ideal situation is that the believers' community should be characterized by love and compassion.
The Prophet describes this community as "one body. When any organ suffers a complaint, the whole body is afflicted with wakeful nights and fever."
For a community to be so closely-knit that it may be compared to a single body, with each organ sharing the feelings of all organs, it must display a strong network of social relations holding all its members together. Social relations will not be truly firm and solid unless they are based on love and compassion.
Truly, Islam is the religion of love. Between every believer and his Lord, there exists mutual love. And between two believers, love is a sort of worship that earns great reward. This worship is largely neglected and forgotten. When believers neglect it, they incur an immediate punishment: their ties become weak and worthless, every individual becomes isolated, feeling himself alone, even he or she are among their parents, spouses, brothers and sisters.
A human being's isolation and loneliness are the inevitable results of individualism that gives everyone a feeling of complete separation from other people and creatures. Such individualism and independence have a price which we pay in the form of isolation. However, with faith, we enjoy both independence and individuality, but we are protected from isolation as we feel close to God. Here we find the important role of the tie of love which exists between a believer and his Creator, and the mutual love that exists between relatives, neighbors and friends. That gives a sense of real companionship.
Love will not be true or able to free man from a suffocating sense of isolation unless it is pure of all self-interests and ulterior motives, or, to use the Islamic terminology, unless it is love for God's sake. This explains the Prophet's statement telling us that a person who loves others for God's sake experiences the sweetness of faith.
True love, or love for God's sake, gives a feeling of great satisfaction and a sense of happiness experienced by the one who loves before it is felt by the one who is loved. Indeed, God has made this type of love an act of worship which earns a person great reward.
Abu Hurairah, the Prophet's companion, quotes God's apostle as saying: "A man visited a brother of his who resided in a different village. As he was on his way, God sent him an angel. As he passed him by, the angel asked him: 'Where are you going?' The man said: 'I am going to visit a brother of mine living in this village.' The angel asked: 'Have you done him a favor which you want him now to return?' The man said: 'No, but I do love him for God's sake.' The angel said: 'Then I must tell you that I have been sent to you by God to infonn you that God loves you just like you love your brother for His sake'."(Related by Muslim).
The Prophet also says: "Seven types of people will enjoy God's protective shade on the Day when there will be no protection other than what He provides: a just ruler; a young person who grows up obedient to God; a man whose heart always inclines to mosques; two men (or women) who love each other for God's sake, feeling this tie when they meet and when they part; a man invited to sin by a woman of charm and beauty, and he says, 'I fear God'; a man (or a woman) who gives to charity so secretly that his left hand would not know what his right hand has given; and a person who remembers God when alone with tearful eyes." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The Prophet also says: "God says on the Day of Judgment: Where are those who loved one another in respect and deference to me? I will grant them My protective shade on this Day when there is no protection other than what I extend." (Related by Muslim).
Love will not exist and take hold unless a believer purges his heart of all feelings of hatred, envy and arrogance. Mutual respect is a prerequisite of love. Besides, for love to be born there should be a preliminary stage in which a person loves for another what he loves for himself, forgives him when he makes a mistake or does something wrong, and refrains from looking at him merely as a source of benefit or gain. Pure love for God's sake, free from any desire of personal gain, is the one we mean here.
It is important to explain here that a person may love someone because the latter has done him a favor. This love, then, is part of one's gratitude for that favor. Should this love be free from any desire for more favors and benefits, it may be love for God's sake. There is no contradiction between love starting as a feeling of gratitude for personal favor already done and pure love for God's sake.
What is important here is that such love should not be motivated by a desire to gain more favors. The matter should be taken as a complete whole. The person concerned is accorded respect and love, as well as a keen desire to do him or her good and prevent harm in the same way as one is keen to achieve that for oneself. He must not be viewed through one's own desires and interests. That would give a very narrow view of the relationship, with one always thinking of one's own interests and building a relationship only on what serves them. Such a relationship ensures neither love nor respect.
Love for God's sake is pure love when it is born in a believer's heart. It is a type of worship for which we are rewarded on the Day of Judgment. The Prophet says: "It is God Almighty who says: those who love one another in deference to Me shall be assigned platforms of light, which even prophets and martyrs would love to have." (Related by At-Tirmithi).
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 04 December 2000[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
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